Memorial Held to Celebrate the Life of Autumn Elgersma
(ORANGE CITY, IA) Family, friends and a community gathered today in Orange City to honor a young girl whose life came to an end too soon. It's been one week since 3-year-old Autumn Elgersma was taken to a Sioux Falls hospital with serious head injuries.
Injuries police say were caused by her daycare provider.
It was clear how many lives this Autumn has touched, every single seat in the church was taken. Hundreds of people showed up to remember little Autumn Lynn and celebrate her life.
"The last week has been very difficult for our family. There's a lot of things on this earth that we don't understand but we know and believe that God is always with us," said Rachel Lamfers, Autumn's Aunt.
It's that faith that has comforted the Elgersma family since their baby girl passed away last Thursday.
Autumn was here at this in-home daycare last Tuesday when her 33-year-old provider, Rochelle Sapp, admitted to police she had thrown the girl to the floor.
That's when Autumn was rushed to a Sioux falls hospital with serious head injuries.
Autumn's Aunt, Rachel Lamfers says the family is extremely close - in fact Autumn had 10 cousins and they would get together once a month.
"We happen to get together this last week, Sunday, so that was the last time that I saw her and right before she left I picked her up for a hug and a kiss and she was telling me what she was going to be for trick-or-treat... yea that'll always be a good memory."
Autumn's pastor, John Klompien shared several memories throughout the service and says while holding a funeral for someone so young is difficult, he believes she is now in the hands of God.
"There's so many things that we'd like to have seen her do. We would have like to have seen her grow up and go to kindergarten and to have seen her involved in more of the ministries of our church as of course her parents must feel much more but we are grateful that the days ordained for us were all written in gods book," said Klompien.
"She was full of life, she loved others, that was her gift, was loving others. She freely gave kisses and hugs. I don't have a single memory of her turning me down for kiss or a hug," said Lamfers.
Rachel says the community's support has also been a huge help.
"I just want to ask for the community to keep praying for them and to keep loving them through this and to uphold them," she said.
Sapp was arrested after Autumn was taken to a hospital. Sapp is charged with willful injury and child endangerment resulting in serious injury.
Additional charges are possible following the preliminary results of an autopsy.
Sapp has been released from the Sioux County Jail after posting a $10,000 bond.